Vérine Bouwman

Born: Nijmegen, Netherlands, 1987
Education: Nationale Balletacademie, Amsterdam
Experience: Introdans (since August 2006)
Accolades: Dancers’ Fund ’79 Prize of Merit (2018)

Don’t be deceived by her gentle appearance – she’s a tough go-getter with an analytical mind. The dancer Vérine Bouwman lost her heart to ballet at an early age. She was just six when she went along to a ballet class for the first time and immediately found it “really wonderful.” By this time she was already involved in gymnastics as well as competitive swimming. “I started swimming when I was four. And I’m still a total water freak.” So why dance as well? “Once I’d learned to do the butterfly stroke I started to get bored. The butterfly was my favourite stroke but the training sessions lacked variety for me. And so I spontaneously started doing underwater ballets…”

Vérine grew up in Wijchen on the outskirts of Nijmegen. She has two brothers: Elmar and Arlan, and she is the middle child. All three have fairly striking names. “Right, my parents chose them quite deliberately: they wanted to give us attractive names!” Her father was a journalist and later editor-in-chief at the newspaper De Gelderlander for years, and now works as a freelancer. At that time her mother was a patient-care secretary at a large hospital. She always felt protected by the men at home. “And Mum was a big emotional support, and indeed still is.” The family is still very close, even though Elmar now lives abroad and her younger brother Arlan is also involved with his own work, friends and girlfriend.

Swimming and dancing

Her swimming talent brought her a place in the national team for synchronised swimming. And it soon became clear that Vérine had an above-average gift for dance as well. “From the age of eleven onward I took the train every morning on weekdays to the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. In the afternoon – after the last school and dance lessons – I took the train back to Veenendaal for a few hours of swimming training. My father used to pick me up from the pool at around nine in the evening, on his way back from work.” But there came a time when I couldn’t keep combining both sports: increasingly the school presentations and the swimming competitions took place on the same days. I had to choose.” She went for ballet. “You can’t have a real career as a synchronised swimmer in the Netherlands. You’d have to go abroad for that, and even there it isn’t seen as a profession. This influenced my decision, too. If I can’t make it to the top, then I lose interest.”

Quitting is not an option

This is a major aspect of her personality. “If I do something, then I want to achieve the maximum. So giving up just isn’t an option. But even if I’m off sick I feel it’s the end of the world and that I’m letting myself and everyone else down. I’m very loyal in this respect.”

She didn’t complete her dance education in The Hague. “I was thirteen when they told me I couldn’t continue. They didn’t think that my feet would be capable of doing classical ballet in the long term.” But even then she didn’t consider giving up. “This taught me to cultivate muscle in the right places, to stretch my legs and feet to the maximum and to create the best lines for my body.” After that she auditioned in Amsterdam and Antwerp and was accepted at both schools. “I chose Amsterdam. At the age of seventeen – in my second year at college – I commenced an internship at Introdans. Both they and I liked it so much that my internship was renewed after a year and at the end I didn’t want to return to college. And so I moved heaven and earth to get a regular contract. Once that had worked out, I begged the school to be able to complete my theory subjects and my thesis during my first contract season. And now I’ve been dancing at Introdans since 2006. How time flies!”

A unique situation

“I love dance and I’ve now been doing it for over twenty-five years. I can’t imagine a life without it, but I don’t see myself dancing for many years more. It’s a very demanding profession. With long days, and many evenings away from home. The travel is quite tough, too. Even though I haven’t had many injuries, I notice that my body recovers more slowly than it did ten years ago. My greatest wish is to become a mother and to start a family with my husband, colleague and dancer Salvatore. At the moment we have a unique situation: we work together, dance together and go on tour together. That’s just so great. What’s more, I learn something new every day. But I’m also very interested in a different kind of profession, in a new life.”

Music moves me

Vérine loves neoclassical duets to lyrical music, and that suits her qualities, too. “Although the sense of satisfaction can be just as great when I doing something that takes me right out of my comfort zone. I can really enjoy seeing how my body and my mind respond to new things. During the rehearsals I’m very rational, I count the steps and my focus is fully in my head, in my intellect. But as soon as I’ve got to grips with a choreography, then I can let myself go. And on stage I’m often very emotional.” She attaches great importance to the music in a choreography. “Music moves me! I hope I can soon relocate to a larger house where I’ll have room for a piano. I played piano for years and loved it, and it would be wonderful to take it up again.”


In 2018, Vérine was presented with a special prize in the presence of Princess Beatrix: The Prize of Merit of the Dansersfonds ’79. The jury said about her: “The enthusiastic, eager former student of the National Ballet Academy in Amsterdam – and formerly a fanatic swimmer – has grown into an undisputed, extremely reliable pillar within Introdans’ tableau of dancers. She uses her technical dance qualities intelligently, efficiently and with an excellent sense of personal nuance, which makes her theatrical presentation always convincing, honest and without superfluous appearance.”